Thursday, September 18, 2008

Holiday Reading, Slight Return

That holiday seems a long time ago now.

The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald I found simply wonderful.

From the opening meeting with the bank manager - "...I would like to put a point, Mrs Green, which in all probability has not occurred to you, and yet which is so plain to those of us who are in a position to take the broader view. My point is this. If over any given period of time the cash inflow cannot meet the cash outflow, it is safe to predict that money difficulties are not far away." - to the final paragraph - "As the train drew out of the station she sat with her head bowed in shame, because the town in which she had lived for nearly ten years had not wanted a bookshop." - it is a beautifully observed and written homage to the madness that drives people to run bookshops.

Next I devoured The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson. I loved it. Not only was I caught up in the plot but this is a crime novel that really makes you care about the characters. I found the details of Swedish life weirdly enthralling. In many ways Larsson has written a classic, Agatha Christie style, mystery but then spiced it up with sex and violence. Great stuff. Next in the trilogy comes out in January.

The final book on my holiday list was Pollard by Laura Beatty. I started off loving it and have had moments of loving it since. But is is very weird and, since I find myself in an odd state of mind at present, reading about a bag lady living in a hut in the woods means I keep wondering which of us (myself or the narrator Anne) is losing their marbles. If I had to make a comparison it might be with The Short Day Dying by Pete Hobbs - another brilliant book, poetic, moving, earthy - that is destined to sell a minute number of copies. Maybe fans of John Cowper Powys would enjoy Pollard? Maybe.

I am very much expecting Sebastian Barry to win the Booker prize btw. More on that later...

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